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Bassist Mario Pavone's first recording was as a member of pianist Paul Bley's trio on the little-heard 1968 release Canada (Radio Canada International). This was when Bley's trio was at the peak of its acoustic glory, but Pavone's tenure was short-lived as Bley moved into an electronic phase shortly after. Pavone would go on after to release a number of fine recordings of his own forward-looking music as well collaborating with such players as Bill Dixon, Anthony Braxton and Thomas Chapin.
Trio Arc is the first meeting of the two in 35 years (Pavone briefly rejoined Bley's group in 1972). The trio is rounded out by drummer Matt Wilson who, though a couple of generations their junior, sounds as if he was raised on this music. The disc, seven improvised tracks, opens with a flurry of activity from Pavone and Wilson as they lay down an all-over bed of rhythm that Bley attacks with relish. Yet soon the music slows down and the trio engages in the slow, organically unfolding interplay that Bley pioneered.
There are many moments to savor. Wilson's concluding drum solo on "Hello Again" is a model of how drums should be played in a trio like this and also segues nicely into the ride cymbal of "Quest." On "Lazzi," he lays down a tick-tock beat that finds Bley and Pavone jousting above, splattering notes all over the rhythm. And if there's any doubt as to how together this trio is, check out the concluding measures of "Sweet."
There are a couple of disappointments. First of all, at 42 minutes, the disc could have gone on for at least another fifteen minutes. It also would have been nice if this trio did a few of the Annette Peacock or Carla Bley songs that Bley made famous; perhaps that could be the focus of a second volume. But despite these two rather minor reservations Trio Arc is a disc of music as timeless and innovative as only a piano trio can be.